OUR VIEW: Class of 2020: Tested and found resilient

We join communities across the region in saluting high school and college graduates of the Class of 2020.

What an unexpected senior-year home stretch these grads have experienced – unlike anything else in a typical educational career.

Who knew at the start of the spring semester that in-person classes would have to be suspended in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic, then canceled altogether? And who foresaw the collateral damage in terms of cancellation of high school sports, extracurricular activities, college athletics and activities, the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, music concerts and more?

For high schoolers, the virus put the kibosh on traditional rites of passage such as prom, honors assemblies and commencement programs. Prep athletes also had to forgo postseason competition in such spring sports as track and field, baseball and softball.

For college seniors, customary spring activities and large-scale graduation ceremonies went by the wayside, too.

Some institutions gamely, and quite creatively, planned alternative digital ceremonies and activities that respected social distancing rules, and they actually turned out pretty well.

While seniors lost out on their traditional rites of passage, this doesn’t lessen their achievements. We’ve seen a lot of seniors take this in stride, and that speaks well of them.

Uncertainty is the order of the day. For high school grads, the virus clouds the next step in their educational careers. For college grads looking to enter a workforce hit with soaring jobless numbers, though, it’s worse. Hiring plans for many companies have been disrupted, and young men and women will feel the impact.

Still, these high school and college grads have proved their resiliency. They adjusted to e-learning. They used technology to keep in touch. They overcame disappointment. They stood up to adversity. They adapted to a new normal.

And they persevered to the finish line of their senior years.

As youths, this year's college grads lived through 9/11. All the grads experienced the Great Recession. And now the COVID-19 pandemic has darkened their doors.

From intense experiences, great lessons can be learned. Seniors learned about perseverance, adaptability, flexibility, and surmounting challenges. And they’ve learned things don’t always go according to plan. As John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

With experience gained at great cost, and which we hope serves them well in the future, members of the Class of 2020 move on with their lives. Good luck and Godspeed to these resilient young men and women. We’re pulling for you.